Sunday, November 27, 2011

Latin Mood

One of the greatest Greek female singers and later Manos Hatzidakis muse.
Fleury Dandonaki born in Crete, 1937, has moved in US to study philosophy and theatre.
In 1965 she released her first album, Fleury – The Isles of Greece, in the States for the folk label Vanguard.
In this album she performs folk and popular songs from various countries.
The band features Gus Vali among others.

Here’s her great cover of Luiz Bonfá and Antonio Maria, Manhã de Carnaval.

Dimitra Galani started her career in the 60s. She has collaborated with most of the great Greek composers (Hatzidakis, Tsitsanis, Moutsis, Kraounakis etc).  
Spyros Sakkas, born 1938, is a renowned baritone who has performed original compositions of the most famous composers (Cage, Xenakis, Christou, Crumb etc).
The two of them have proposed to National Greek Radio a series of songs from all over the world which was first broadcasted in 1983.

Here’s Vinicius de Moraes’ and Buden Powell's Samba em Prelúdio.

Zanet Kapuya is not Greek. Or better, she was not born Greek. She was born in Uruguay and moved in Buenos Aires at the age of 13.
From a very early age she studied singing, dancing, guitar and theatre.
By the end of the 70s Kapuya comes to Greece and stays.
In 1979 she releases her first album in Greece, named Songs (Tragoudia) where she performs songs from Spain, Italy, Argentina, Cuba, Peru and Greece.
The Greek songs belong to composer Akis Panou.

Here's El Humahuaqueño from Argentina

and Your World (O Kosmos o Dikos sou) which is an original composition by Akis Panou written for his new born daughter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

El Griego Rumbero

When I first contacted Demetrios Kastaris, beginning of November, I did it to ask if he was going to release any of the material produced by his new project, Conjunto Katharí. Until then I had only read on the web about the new group and their mix of salsa and gospel, but I didn’t have an idea of their sound. Nothing existed on the web. Demetrios not only responded but also sent me the 3 songs they had recorded at the time! The timing was great as he informed me they were about to release the songs. So this is probably the first article written where you can also listen to a sample of Conjunto Katharí music. The 3 songs were made available online last week.

Conjunto Katharí was founded in June of 2010 by trombonist Demetrios Kastaris and his wife, Arts Administrator Hilda Kastaris. Conjunto (pronounced cone-hoón-toe) means musical ensemble in Spanish, and Katharí means pure and clean in Greek.
Demetrios Kastaris explains that the purpose of the group is to perform Afro-Caribbean music with Gospel lyrics.
The instrumentation consists of 4 trombones in 4 parts harmony (big influence was the 4 trombones arrangements of Willie Colon), 3 percussionists, 3 singers in harmony, piano, bass, plus invited guest soloists.

Demetrios with Salsa Legend Willie Colon

The orchestra’s debut concert took place December, 2010 at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, New York with master Jazz virtuoso trombone and conch shell player Steve Turre as a guest.

Conjunto Katharí have just released their first recordings.

Here's a preview of the 3 songs
1. Si Tuvieras Fé Como Un Grano De Mostaza (If You Had the Faith of a Mustard Seed)
2. Vamos Escalando Peldaños (Let’s Go Climbing Up Stairs)
3. Wade in the Water

You can listen/buy the songs here or go to and type Conjunto Katharí


Q: Demetrios you've been called “El Griego Rumbero”. The Latin-Jazz Coalition has gained a good reputation and released an acclaimed album and you introduced Conjunto Kathari, your salsa-gospel project. What is your musical vision?

With the Latin Jazz Coalition I wish to continue doing concerts with well-known artists as well as continue growing as a trombone player, composer, arranger, band leader, and Jazz improviser. Just because I founded a new group called Conjunto Kathari does not mean that I am going to stop doing concerts with the Latin Jazz Coalition.

Oh by the way, I am called El Griego Rumbero because I was born in Greece and I maintain my Greek identity while performing Afro Cuban and Puerto Rican music with a great band and with well-known musicians. Historians and scholars of Latin music have brought it to my attention that I am the first Greek-American in recorded history to lead an authentic sounding Latin band of Afro Caribbean music and Jazz.

In terms of Conjunto Kathari which is only a year and a half old I have a very different vision. There is a message of God`s love in Conjunto Kathari. I want to give hope and love to people that feel hopeless and helpless, regardless of what culture they come from or what their religion is. God has put that love in my heart for all people. I desire to play in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and on the streets in tough neighborhoods where there is gang violence, drugs, and prostitution. All these people need to feel love. I get this desire to do humanistic things from my relationship to Jesus Christ. I have been given so many blessings it`s time for me to give back.

For those who don`t know Greek and Spanish Conjunto Kathari means pure and clean musical ensemble. That`s quite a reputation to live up to. I feel that Conjunto Kathari has to play in an exceptionally excellent way because many people don`t accept our message as far as Jesus is concerned. If our music is great many people will eventually accept our message.

Also in Conjunto Kathari I get to play in a trombone section with a total of 4 great trombone players in 4 part harmony. I also get to play Salsa with Gospel lyrics as well as Contemporary and traditional Gospel music. I have wanted to do all of this for years.

Q: What is your Greek heritage?

I was born in Theassaloniki in 1959. In 1961 we moved to the United States. My dad was a Greek Orthodox priest for his entire life. My mom was a home maker from Athens. My dad was also 100% Greek and grew up in Athens but he was born in Alexandria Egypt. I consider myself 100% Greek (Greek American). I also can claim a small tie to African rhythm from my father`s side. I grew up in an extremely Greek environment and culture. We spoke Greek only at home and English only at school. I went to Greek school at 3:30 after American school for many years so that I would learn Greek. I have visited Greece in the summer ten times and I love my Greek culture.

We love to eat spanakopita and baklava. We also really love to listen to Kalamatiano and Zembekiko. Even though I am immersed in Afro Cuban music today I really love to listen to recordings of Haris Alexiou. I go crazy when I listen to that music.

By the way, my wife is from Colombia, South America so I am fully fluent in three languages, English, Greek, and Spanish.

Q: Your favorite music?

I love Latin music, Latin Jazz, Greek music, Jazz, Classical, almost everything except for music that talks about violence

Q: Any plans of live performances in Greece/Europe in the future?

It has been my desire for years to travel to Greece and do concerts. We have to stay at it and see what doors open up.

Q: What's next?

Well, I have been working very hard with my wife building the infrastructure and administrative strength of both bands. This part of being an artist is tedious and time consuming but as in the past it has opened many marvelous doors for performing and recording. We want to record more with both orchestras.

Latin Jazz Coalition older GREEKAZOID post here
Latin Jazz Coalition web site:
Demetrios Kastaris e-mail:
youtube: type: latinjazzcoalition

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brothers and Sisters


Anna and Maria Kalouta (1920 – 1918) were raised to be stars.
They first appeared on stage in 1925.
The duo performed all over the world since 1950, recorded and appeared in movies.
It is said they also collaborated with Yma Sumac and Maurice Chevalier among others.

A Beating Heart


Errica and Margarita Broyer first appeared as a duo in 1961.
They singed and danced to modern rhythms of the era and soon became one of the most famous acts of 60s night life.
They also appeared in numerous movies.


Little Kiss


Born in the 40s, John and George Katsamba, became famous as the Katsamba Brothers duo.
Although most of their albums are in Greek, they became very popular for their latin performances.
They also scored some international hits as Los Hermanos Cachamba.
Their first self titled album was released in 1968.
Next year they released the album Melodies of Latin America which includes this version of Manolo Escobar, El Porompompero.

El Porompompero


Martha and Tena Elefteriadu, born 1946/1948, to Greek political refugees, grew up in Brno in former Czechoslovakia. They began their musical journey in the 60s with beat group Vulkán. They had a successful career during the 60s and 70s. Martha had an interesting solo career in the 70s in a more funky mood.

Srdce na dlani (1970)

Horizont (Martha solo, 1980)

Monday, November 7, 2011

BBC Stories

An ex-soldier who fought during World War 2 alongside the local resistance returns to Crete where he comes across the ghosts of the past questioning and threatening his present…
That’s the story of TV Series Who Pays the Ferryman, filmed in Crete and produced by BBC in 1977.
Yannis Markopoulos has written the music score which became a hit in UK.

Who Pays the Ferryman? - Yannis Markopoulos

The Honeymoon Song was written by Mikis Theodorakis in 1958 for the Honeymoon movie by Michael Powell.
The song performed by Marino Marini appealed to The Beatles who recorded this for their BBC sessions in 1963.
This version was finally released in 1994 (The Beatles: Live at the BBC).
In 1969 Paul McCartney produced The Honeymoon Song for Mary Hopkin’s debut album.
The song has been covered multiple times since and in many languages.

The Honeymoon Song - The Beatles

The Hoenymoon Song - Mary Hopkin

An Thimitheis to Oneiro mou (If you remember my dream is the Greek title. Lyrics by poet Nikos Gatsos) - Giovana

Friday, November 4, 2011

No Comments

Melina Merkouri - Cafe Greece (To Kafeneion i Ellas) (1984)

Jimmy Makulis - Gitarren klingen leise durch die nacht (1959)

Brigitte Bardot - Les amis de la musique (1963) (a Yiannis Spanos composition)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Athens Calling

It's a chaotic, schizophrenic and frustrating situation.
For so many years corrupted governments, hungry allies and filthy syndicates rule.
No words to describe insanity.
Just 3 songs as a soundtrack to this madness.

1. Get Off My World - The Last Drive (from Heavy Liquid, 2009)

  2. Frank & Stein - Modrec (from Mascaraddiction, 2010)

3. Leftovers - Planet of Zeus (from Macho Libre, 2011)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Safari Boy

Following the Tokoloshe Men post here’s another Greek from South Africa. Tolis Fasois, born in South Africa and formed his first group there influenced by the UK punk scene.
The family moved to Greece and Tolis searched for a new band. So in 1979 when Madness were releasing their first album, a new band was coming to shape in Greece: Sharp Ties.

The band was meant to be one of the first and by far the most successful Greek band to jump on the post-punk/new wave/ska train at the time it was created.
In 1981, at the time the Smiths were releasing their first album, Sharp Ties released theirs. The title: Get that Beat and the title song still remains a party classic.

Get That Beat - Sharp Ties (from Get That Beat, 1981)

Platinum disc, tours all over Greece and sold-outs. At a time when most groups where singing in Greek, this English singing group made record companies re-think their local strategies.
Their second album, Safari Boys, follows in 1982. These two first albums remain among the most successful and best new wave Greek albums. Two more albums follow, Sharp Ties 3 in 1986 and Positive in 1989.
The sound becomes more pop (just like their UK influences).

Safari Boys - Sharp Ties (from Safari Boys, 1982)

By the By - Sharp Ties (from Sharp Ties 3, 1986)

Then the group disbands and it would take more than 20 years for Tolis to release another album, solo this time.
Just before that he writes the English lyrics for the songs of Pyx Lax that were sung by Eric Burdon, Marc Almond, Steve Wynn and Gordon Gano (the songs included in Pyx Lax, Happy in the City of Fools album of 2003).
Finally in 2009, Tolis Fasois releases his first solo album Just for a Day. To the old influences (David Byrne, Bryan Ferry) some new are added (Jarvis Cocker).
The sound is fresh, pop with very good songs and production.

A very nice (and unexpected) comeback.

Crumbling Down - Tolis Fasois (from Just for a Day, 2009)

Come On - Tolis Fasois (from Just for a Day, 2009)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...